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China economic data for April miss expectations as demand cools

Low domestic demand despite low inflation has slowed China's economic recovery
Low domestic demand despite low inflation has slowed China's economic recovery - Copyright AFP/File GREG BAKER
Low domestic demand despite low inflation has slowed China's economic recovery - Copyright AFP/File GREG BAKER

China’s economic data for April missed expectations last month, official figures showed Tuesday, as low demand and high youth unemployment led to a patchy recovery after lifting strict Covid rules.

Retail sales — a key indicator of domestic consumer activity — grew 18.4 percent on-year, data released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) showed.

The reading was short of the 21.9 percent forecast in a survey of economists by Bloomberg, even as shoppers and diners returned to malls and restaurants.

Low domestic demand despite low inflation has slowed China’s economic recovery.

Beijing has set a growth target of around five percent this year, the lowest goal in decades, with Premier Li Qiang warning it “will be no easy task”. 

Zhang Zhiwei, chief economist at Pinpoint Asset Management, said: “The growth target for this year is set at a low level, which leaves room for the government to wait and see.”

Unemployment among China’s urban 16-24-year-olds reached a record high of 20 percent in April, as the services sector was slow to absorb millions of rural migrants flocking to cities.

Overall urban unemployment slipped to 5.2 percent in April, from 5.3 percent in March. 

Industrial production for April rose 5.6 percent, a little more than half the 10.9 percent growth expected as factories gradually returned to full capacity after scrapping disruptive lockdown rules.

Fixed asset investments from January through April increased 4.7 percent, below the 5.7 percent forecast, as debt-laden local governments were forced to cut back on big infrastructure projects. 

China’s central bank yesterday said the world’s second-largest economy was not on course to suffer from deflation, after data showed consumer prices edged up just 0.1 percent year-on-year in April, the slowest rate recorded since 2021. 

“Consumer prices are still rising moderately… and economic operations continue to improve, which does not conform to the characteristics of deflation,” the report reviewing monetary policy implementation in the first quarter said.

“In the medium and long term, there is also no basis for… deflation.”

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With 2,400 staff representing 100 different nationalities, AFP covers the world as a leading global news agency. AFP provides fast, comprehensive and verified coverage of the issues affecting our daily lives.

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